No one ever plans to attend a funeral on their birthday but that was how mine started today. For 36 years I was fortunate enough to live next door to Lois Jean Noe. Tim called her the Welcome Wagon because when we moved into our house in 1986 on our first Wedding Anniversary Lois showed up at our door with a basket of goodies including Tim’s fav chocolate chip cookies. Over the years we saw each other via yard work, snow shoveling, grocery shopping and many visits after illnesses and surgeries! I loved our talks at the mailbox, across the fence and at our kitchen tables. During Covid as she fell ill from a variety of issues I checked on her several times a week. She died at age 83 two days after Christmas. Today during the hour-long wake I replayed in my mind many of our hysterical memories including her attending a birthday party we had for our dogs Taurus and Bear complete with birthday hats and I smiled A LOT! Lois will truly be missed and I wouldn’t have missed her funeral for anything even if that meant going on my birthday.
I went right from the funeral to a hospital to see a dear friend who is critically ill. Now THAT was hard! We smiled, we held hands and we shared gentle hugs!! We laughed at the outrageously funny things we did while working and socializing together. Most importantly we shared how much our friendship meant to each other and how much we loved each other. We shed a few tears too as I left. I am thrilled I got to visit her and know what an incredible gift I had been given! She commented on how much joy I always brought to her and to others and I’m grateful that I brought her some joy today!
My last stop today took me down to Calvert County! Last year on my birthday Kendra Hofmann the middle daughter of my bestie Kris Lopez gave birth to a son they named Jaxon! But instead of the joyous moment we’d all been expecting, the devastating news came that Jaxon was stillborn and I cried for most of my birthday. Tonight, one year later we celebrated Jaxon’s heavenly birthday with tacos, balloons and a gorgeous cake. The fam sang happy birthday twice, once for me and once for Jaxon! There was even a peanut butter cake for me with LEGO cookie cutouts! Jaxon’s awesome brother Benj even sang a song about how much we all missed and loved him! It’s still so hard to believe we won’t get to watch Jaxon grow up and though there was definitely some sadness tonight there was lots of joy and laughter in the room too!!
Today was absolutely one of the most emotional birthdays I’ve ever had with three very different and very powerful circumstances! I didn’t get to see all the social media birthday wishes or open any of my cards until just now at the end of the day because I wanted to wait to celebrate. Today wasn’t about me getting cards and presents, it was about me BEING PRESENT with the people I love (or loved) and care about! I did shed a lot of tears today but I’ll be celebrating with my own fam later this week when my daughter and granddaughter cook a meal for me! They happily agreed to reschedule our planned dinner so I could be a GIFT / PRESENT for others today at a funeral and a hospital and a memorial family dinner! I’d like to avoid another day like today for a long time to come, but I truly believe that I was everywhere I was supposed to be today – holding a hand, giving a hug and eating a slice of heavenly birthday cake! I didn’t realize until I was driving home tonight how many gifts of love and joy I gave and received today and even through all the sadness and tears it sure did feel good to be PRESENT!